After a twitter-chat between myself and Ben Nadel regarding KVM switches and Mac Minis I decided to take some time to write about my local development setup. This post will be in two parts: the first (this one) will focus on the hardware, and my thoughts leading to the decisions that I made. The second part will be more about the software aspect and how I tied everything together to make it work seamlessly.
I've been a web developer for over 10 years now. Until about 5 or 6 years ago, I've never given all that much though to my home setup, other than to have dual monitors and the fastest computer I could afford. Then, when I finally started making money doing freelance work, I decided that it was time to give some serious thought to my setup. I purchased better equipment, learned more about the setup, etc. It wasn't until 2 years ago though that I made the decision to purchase a Mac. Now I personally prefer PCs for web development, but I was getting more and more clients who used Macs and I needed a way to test sites without depending on friends who has Macs.
So about a year and a half ago I purchased a Mac Mini. It sat on my desktop and just waited for me to use it to test sites. It was only occasional, but I also used it to sort of poke around the Mac OS. My home setup was a PC workstation, a PC file server, the Mac Mini, and my wife's computer. All of this equipment was taking up a lot of room, and power cords so I decided that we would put all of my client files, images, movies, etc. on the Mini. I purchased and installed a bigger internal hard drive (160gig), and also bought an external drive to use as a Time Machine backup. The problem at this point was that I now had two keyboards. The existing KVM switch that I used between my workstation and the file server was PS/2 and wouldn't work with the Mac. Now I just had to find a new USB based KVM switch.
I totally lucked out in finding the IOGEAR GCS632U. With that installed, I was able to get the PC and Mac using the same keyboard and mouse. The great thing about the IOGEAR KVM is that it automatically maps the Windows key to the Apple key, as well as mapping the right mouse button to the CMD + click functionality on the Mac. Here's a quick diagram of the way I've got my computers and monitors setup using the KVM. All in all, I'm very pleased with the way my setup works. It allows me to switch seamlessly between the two computers.
Next up will be a review of my sofware strategy and how I use my two computers for local web development.
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